Borden Ladner Gervais




Dispute resolution


Vancouver’s Dionysios Rossi is generating a pronounced profile among peers for his shipping, transportation and energy law acumen. Along with fellow Vancouver-based partner and transportation law specialist Graham Walker, Rossi is providing Canadian legal counsel to Kirby Corporation in ongoing criminal and civil proceedings arising from the grounding of a US-flagged tugboat in 2016 while transiting the Inside Passage of BC, spilling fuel into Seaforth Channel. In July 2019, Kirby pleaded guilty to three counts in connection with the incident and was fined a total of $2.9 million. A local aboriginal group commenced a BC Supreme Court civil action against Kirby seeking damages in respect of the incident. Kirby commenced a Federal Court action seeking to have the Federal Court assume jurisdiction over the case and determine whether and to what extent Kirby was entitled to limit its liability in accordance with various international conventions. The motion was granted. Peers also insist, “Rick Williams is doing a case for the Province right now concerning the Blueberry River First Nations tribe.” This matter sees the tribe seeking to prohibit industrial development within a 40,000 square-kilometer area in northeastern BC, which is located within Treaty 8 territory and is one of the largest natural gas plays in North America. Two domestic and international arbitration specialists in Vancouver, Rob Deane and Craig Chiasson, were retained by Arbitration Place to intervene in the appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeal concerns the enforceability, in the context of a proposed class action, of the arbitration clause in the licensing agreement with Uber (and UberEATs) drivers. The proposed class alleges that the clause is unenforceable as an impermissible contracting-out of the Employment Standards Act or is otherwise unconscionable. Deane is a perennial favorite among peers; one confirms, “Rob knows his way around commercial arbitrations and investor-state work, and he speaks on it with the authority of someone 10 years his senior.”


Borden Ladner is one of the few firms to have a near-equal concentration of litigators in its Ottawa office as it has in Toronto. In Ottawa, Larry Elliot manages a practice that straddles product liability and insurance litigation. Elliot has been retained by Certas (State Farm) to defend an action arising out of a 2010 high-speed motor vehicle/bus collision. Two plaintiffs, who were 15 years old at the time of the collision, have commenced actions alleging that they have sustained catastrophic brain injuries as a result of the collision. The Ottawa office also houses an intellectual property specialist in Jamie Mills, who attends to patents, trademarks and copyrights. A peer insists, “Jamie is tough as nails and aggressive in business development. Ask him about his Eli Lily cases!” Mills tends to a steady stream of patent work for this client, and is also representing Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Janssen, both of whom are in a damages appeal with Teva Canada Limited following trial litigation concerning alleged infringement of three patents. In Toronto, David DiPaolo and Caitlin Sainsbury, both securities-focused partners, act for the syndicate of firms that underwrote an approximately $225 million issuance of shares of cannabis entity Aphria, which is now the subject of a proposed class action alleging prospectus misrepresentation (and numerous secondary market misrepresentations and oppression against Aphria and certain of its officers and directors.) Graeme Hamilton is making his mark in the white-collar crime world. Hamilton was retained by an individual defendant in a prosecution under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act regarding allegations of bribery to obtain contracts.


BLG’s Calgary office houses some of the firm’s biggest luminaries in its celebrated construction practice. Jeffrey Vallis receives universal acclaim. “He’s got an amazing practice and is a marvelous lawyer,” raves one peer. “He is a superb advocate in counsel and has done a ton of arbitrations in Alberta and Manitoba in particular.” Trish Morrison, also acknowledged as “excellent, just really first-rate,” leads the defense of a claim made by Dow Chemical Canada and ME Global Canada for damages in the amount of $210 million arising out of negligence and breach of contract related to the failure and forced shut down of a Boiler Feedwater Preheat Exchanger, which is part of the process of cracking ethane gas into ethylene. Michael Marion, an all-purpose commercial litigator, represented a family of US citizens and one of their corporations in a dispute against Canadian oil and gas companies in relation to accounting pursuant to a Net Profits Interest Agreement. The trial of this matter took place in the fall and winter of 2019 and in February 2020, a decision was rendered in favor of the firm’s client.


The firm’s Montréal office hosts a variety of litigators spanning class actions, investigations, banking and securities. This office also is home to what is arguably the firm’s biggest concentration of labor and employment lawyers. Arguably the most prominent figure in Montreal, Mathieu Piché-Messier attends to a practice that balances commercial work with specialty cases of a more novel nature. Piché-Messier, a recent entrant into the American College of Trial Lawyers and one of the youngest partners to become one, is championed by peers on a near-unanimous basis. “Mathieu just continues to kill it,” marvels a peer. “All eyes are on him in Montréal.” Piché-Messier represented Pratt & Whitney Canada, who sued for misappropriation and unlawful use of its proprietary data in the design of four flight simulators. The case, valued at CAD $2.5 million, was settled in 2020. Debut future star Anne Merminod led a successful representation of Mazda in a class action on the merits that establishes for the first time the obligation to prove actual financial impact in a price reduction claim under the Québec Consumer Protection Act. Justine Laurier triumphed in April 2020 when the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the application for leave to appeal in the case of truck drivers of Sikh faith employed by Montréal Gateway Terminals wearing hard hats over their turbans, despite their religious beliefs prohibiting them from doing so.